AMES — For a time, Iowa State’s offense could click without its top downfield playmaker, Quenton Bundrage.
And for a time, the Cyclones could produce after their senior captain center, Tom Farniok, went down with another MCL injury.
But for roughly three quarters of Saturday’s 34-14 loss to North Dakota State, the sudden absence of those key players cast a pall over the offense, which produced just 57 second-half yards and nothing remotely resembling a scoring drive after halftime.
“You have to be able to overcome adversity in a game,” ISU offensive coordinator Mark Mangino said Tuesday night. “And I don’t think we did that very well.”
Where does the buck stop in that regard?
With him, he said.
“I’m talking about myself as well as the players,” Mangino said. “You know, it’s college football. Guys go down, the next guy’s got to step up and play. That’s what we train them to do, that’s what we plan to do — to have kids ready. And we didn’t handle that well.”
Farniok, who also sustained a similar but more severe MCL injury in last season’s opening loss to Northern Iowa, is expected to return for Saturday’s 11 a.m. Big 12 opener against No. 20 Kansas State.
Bundrage, a junior who suffered a torn ACL, is out for the season just as he seemed poised to take an important step from occasional big-play producer to frequent contributor in that regard.
“I feel badly for him, because the last couple weeks in preparation for this North Dakota State game he was becoming the player that he wanted to be and he worked hard to be,” Mangino said. “He was becoming a very reliable target. He was catching the ball really well, running good routes. And he got injured blocking. And one of the things he really improved since we got here was his blocking. He really took it personal. So I feel bad for him, but he’ll bounce back.”
So, Mangino said, will the offense.
The Cyclones ended last season on a two-game conference win streak after falling nine times in the previous 10 games overall.
“When somebody gets hurt, somebody’s got to step up,” Mangino said. “Injuries are a part of college football and we have to be able to do that so there’s no excuses. I don’t accept any and I don’t give any. You’ve got to get it done.”